Rosalynn Carter, a remarkable figure in American history and the wife of former President Jimmy Carter, passed away peacefully at her home in Plains, Georgia, surrounded by her loving family, as announced by The Carter Center. She was 96 years old.
Mrs. Carter, a staunch advocate for mental health and social issues, had entered hospice care just days before her death. She leaves behind a legacy as a compassionate and influential First Lady, and as a pillar of support and inspiration to her husband throughout his political career.
President Jimmy Carter, deeply moved by the loss, expressed his profound love and admiration for Rosalynn, acknowledging her as an integral part of his life and achievements. “Rosalynn was a constant source of strength and wisdom for me,” he said. “Her love and support were unwavering.”
Born on August 18, 1927, as Eleanor Rosalynn Smith, she grew up in Plains, Georgia, in a close-knit family. The eldest of four siblings, her life took a challenging turn at 13 when her father passed away, leading her mother to become a dressmaker to support the family. Rosalynn took an active role in assisting her mother and caring for her younger siblings.
After graduating from high school, she pursued higher education at Georgia Southwestern College in Americus. It was during this time, in 1945, that she began dating Jimmy Carter, who was on a break from the U.S. Naval Academy. Their bond quickly grew, with Carter declaring to his mother after their first date that Rosalynn was the woman he wished to marry.
The couple wed in July 1946 and embarked on a journey together that saw Jimmy Carter rise to become the 39th President of the United States. Rosalynn’s warmth and quiet strength were instrumental in her husband’s political campaigns, earning her widespread admiration.
As the First Lady of both Georgia and the United States, Rosalynn Carter dedicated herself to fostering a more compassionate society. Her efforts were especially focused on advancing the rights and opportunities of the elderly, people with developmental disabilities, and women. She also championed mental health, a cause close to her heart since her husband’s governorship, and continued to advocate for it throughout her life.
The Carter Center, co-founded by Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter, highlights her role as an activist First Lady who established a separate East Wing office to pursue her dedicated agenda.
Sadly, in May 2023, the family revealed that Rosalynn Carter was diagnosed with dementia. In her final days, she was surrounded by the love and care of her husband, their four children, 11 grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren, marking the end of a life lived with purpose, dignity, and immense love.